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BARBADOS - Simpson Oil Ltd. (SOL)

Stewart Gill, SOL's regional director for South Caribbean and Belize.

December-2004 by Tony Best

A streamlined operation, hefty severance packages for Bajans and new careers in the oil business in Barbados.

That’s what’s in store for employees of Simpson Oil Ltd. (SOL), the Barbados company that’s taking over Shell’s Caribbean assets and marketing system next month.

Stewart Gill, SOL’s regional director for the South Caribbean and Belize, said the company’s bold move would keep jobs in Barbados that otherwise would have left; result in a return of managerial autonomy from Barbados to the other Caribbean islands and allow firms in Barbados that currently do business with Shell to maintain those ties.

However, the streamlining would cause “a net loss” of jobs in Barbados, while creating a fresh career path for those interested in working with the company.

Stewart Gill, SOL's regional director for South Caribbean and Belize.

For example, a Barbadian has already been hired to take up a new top finance job in the company.

“The (previous) centralisation of the Shell operations in the Eastern Caribbean wasn’t well appreciated by many of the OECS governments as it was seen as a sort of abandonment of those markets,” Gill said.

“Having centralised a lot of the operations in Barbados it affected customer and government relations in the other territories between Grenada and the British Virgin Islands.

“While the return of some autonomy and empowerment to those markets, preferably with the employment of general managers, will be welcomed by those places, the reality is that there will be a net reduction (of jobs) in Barbados.”

“SOL executives have already met with the Barbados Workers’ Union and have promised hefty severance packages in order to make the changes and the redundancies as painless and as smooth as possible,” Gill said.

He said that if any of the foreign companies, which were competing against SOL for Shell’s assets, had succeeded, Barbados might have lost even more positions.

“The take-over of the Shell companies in the Caribbean by SOL, a Barbados-based company, will mean that the Shell jobs that otherwise would have gone to another location had one of our competitors been successful in acquiring Shell assets, would remain in Barbados,” he said.

SOL is buying all of Shell’s onshore properties, its storage facilities, the retail petrol stations and associated commercial accounts and assets in an area that stretches from the British Virgin Islands to all of the Caribbean islands and territories, except the French West Indian islands and The Bahamas.

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